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Flagstaff's Top 3: Pizzerias

by Gary Nelson


The Best Pizza I Have Ever Had

The best pizza I have ever had in my life was in Long Island, New York, hands down.  Not Manhattan, not Chicago...Long Island.  My good friends Kenny and Phyllis Nelson (not related to me, but should be) were wrong about it, though.  Kenny said if you have a slice of Grandmas pizza at Umberto's (not King Umberto's) in New Hyde Park, NY that it will be the best pizza you have ever had in your life.  And by the way, a slice of Grandmas Pizza from Umberto's was featured on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network.  Additionally, it is the official and favorite pizza of the lowly New York Giants of the NFL.  But, my friend Kenny was wrong. And the reason he is wrong is...because the pizza with vodka sauce is better!  Here is a link to the best pizza you will ever have:

Click Here For A Link To The Real Deal!

But, we don't live in New York, we live in Flagstaff, AZ.  And by the way, New York doesn't have very good Navajo Tacos.  So there, New York.  However, you can get some pretty good pizza here.  By my friends standards, I am not sure how they would rank against New York or Chicago. Or if it would compare to Pizzaria Bianco in Scottsdale, which many food blogs and food networks think is the undisputed best Pizza in the US. It's not as good as Umbertos in Long Island, but it is delicious.

But, let's get to it.  Here are 3 pizza joints in Flagstaff that will not disappoint (Unless your last name is Nelson and you live in Long Island):



Click Here For A Link To Fratelli's Website!

Click Here For A Link To The Tripadvisor Review Of Fratelli's! 

​Fratelli's Pizza has 2 locations in Flagstaff and will soon have another!  Early in 2017 (or maybe midway, since they are taking their sweet time), we will see Fratelli's expand to a third location at 1850 N. Fort. Valley Road (Highway 180 to you flat landers), next to Late For The Train.  This location has been several restaurants that haven't made it, but Fratelli's will succeed there. Northwest Flagstaff needs a good pizza place and the locals, skiers and tourists alike should make it a go.

Fratelli's is what I would classify as a good pizza parlor.  It's not as dynamic as the next 2 on this list, but it is a good solid choice, won't break your wallet and is better than everything else in Flagstaff!  But don't get that last sentence wrong, you can get very good pizza at Fratelli's.  If you are a little adventurous with the menu, it gets very good.  I love the Route 66, which is a spicy BBQ Chicken pizza.  As a few of you know, I love BBQ and wish they had a better sauce, but this is one fine pizza!

Fratelli's Rout 66

Give Fratelli's a shot at either location and support the new one when it is open.  The owners always support local charities and schools and also have Mama Burger, down the road.


Fat Ol​ives

Fat Olives is an offering by the owners of Salsa Brava which is a long-time Mexican restaurant here in Flagstaff.  Fat Olives has been in business around 4 years now, and has gathered quite the following, it seems.  I know that when I am there, the place seems very busy.  Located at 2308 East Route 66 in Flagstaff, it serves thin crust Neopolitan style pizza that is wood fired.

The pizza is very good and the crust has that salty, chewy, crunchy and charred flavor that makes this style of pizza irresistible​.  As for me, I order the Arrabiata which has Marzano tomato sauce, mozarella, basil and a spicy sausage.  It has a pretty good kick, but I like spicy food.  The Margherita pizza is also very good, and you can judge a good pizza place by how well they can make a Margherita pizza.  In New York, a pizza place can be judged by how good your Grandma's Pizza is.  Out here, maybe a Margherita.

Click Here For A Link To The Fat Olives Website

Click Here For A Review On Tripadvisor!

And by the way, this is another restaurant in Flagstaff that supports charities.  You will always see their support of Special Olympics and other causes and it makes me want to support then as well!




This is another high temperature, Neapolitan style pizza restaurant that is smaller than Fat Olives and pretty much sticks to pizza.  In the pizza wars of Flagstaff (if there were any), I would personally give the nod to Pizzicletta. I think that many others would as well, as they have a cult following here in the Northland.  I will point out that they are across the street from Fratelli's south side location and both are surviving, so that is a testament to both places, I would think.  Totally different styles of pizza, but they do survive!

Click Here For A Link To Pizziclettas Website!

Click Here For A Link To A 10 Best In Arizona Blog That Includes Pizzicletta!  

Click Here For A Link To A Tripadvisor Review!

As I said above, you can judge a pizza place by how good there Margherita pizza is.  On my most recent visit (last night), that is exactly what I did.  It was chewy with that perfect salty char that balances with the tang of the pure tomato sauce and the creaminess of the house made mozzarella.  It was very good!  

Pizzicletta Oven

So, in the grand scheme of things, you really can get good pizza in Flagstaff!  And before my friends start squeaking about why a certain place known for their slices isn't on this list, it's because the slices are just OK, and not great.  The above are much better no matter how you "slice" it!

And the same can be said for a place known for a different style of east coast pizza.  It's good, but not great and I think it's obvious that the employees love to party a little too hard for me. 

Next up will probably be a blog dedicated to the top 3 burgers in town which may be followed by the top 3 places for girls night out and then boys night out! Stay tuned!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Flagstaff's Top 3: Fine Dining Restaurants

by Gary Nelson

As you may know, I have been blogging for a few months on Flagstaff's Top 3 in various restaurant categories.  My first blog was New Restaurants in Flagstaff, followed by Flagstaff's Top 3: Places To Get Lunch Downtown, and my most recent was Flagstaff's Top 3: Mexican Restaurants for Breakfast or Lunch.  That last one got a bit contentious as I found out that a few of my friends have absolutely no idea what Mexican food actually is!  Oh well, "some peoples kids", as they say!

So, this time I would like to get a little less contentious and talk about Fine Dining in Flagstaff.  The truth be told, there really aren't that many Fine Dining restaurants to begin with, so my job in this blog is not that difficult.  As a matter of fact, the first two below are very easy to pin down, but it's just number 3 that is difficult to decide on.  So, here we go:

Cottage Place

Cottage Place Restaurant is widely accepted as the best restaurant in Flagstaff and has been in most peoples mind for many, many years.  I have heard a few people grumble that they have slipped into a bit too much "southwestern" in the past few years, but in my opinion Cottage Place still is the top restaurant in Flagstaff.

Cottage Place

The restaurant was started by Ron Freeman in 1981, sold to Kurt Gottshalk after that and is now owned by Frank Branham, who bought it in 1994.  Frank is now considered a celebrated local chef, and has won many awards for both his craft and for The Cottage Place.  It repeatedly wins Best Fine Dining in Flagstaff on different sites and newspapers and is a very highly regarded local eatery in anyone's book.

Here is a link to their menu: Cottage Place Menu.

For me, I have always loved the Grilled White Mexican Shrimp.  The grilled flavor is absolutely excellent.  Also, Cottage Place would probably be on everyone's short list for the best place to go on a date.  If that is what you are doing, why not have the Chateaubriand For Two? Imagine a perfectly cooked filet mignon roast that is carved table side and served with roasted vegetables.  It is excellent when paired with the perfect wine.  Finally, the desserts at Cottage Place are excellent as well.  Leave room for the Arizona Cream.  Think of it as a white chantilly cream mousse with raspberries.  It is very good!

Cottage Plates

Overall, Cottage Place could be successful in any large city in the US, but to have a restaurant of this caliber in Flagstaff is wonderful!

Here is a link to the Cottage Place's Yelp Reviews.

Here is a link to TripAdvisor's Reviews of Cottage Place.


Josephine's Modern American Bistro

Located on very busy Humphrey's Street, Josephine's is another cozy fine dining restaurant that is occupying a very quaint, old Flagstaff house.  This craftsman style building is made of local stone and is very warm and inviting.

Josephine's is a good solid choice for lunch or dinner in Flagstaff.  However, their weekend brunch has become very popular and my family absolutely loves it.  Not to be missed.

I have friends that claim that the burger at Josephine's is the best hamburger that they have had anywhere.  So, that would be a recommendation, but to be honest I haven't tried it.  I always get distracted by something else on the menu.


Here is a link to Trip Advisor's Reviews of Josephine's.

Here is a like to Yelps Reviews of Josephine's.


1899 Bar and Grill

OK, this last one is a little tough, because I am not so certain that 1899 deserves the recognition.  I have been there for lunch a couple of times lately and they seemed to have slipped a bit.  However, with being a part of Northern Arizona University, they may just be limiting their lunch menu to attract a wider crowd from the University.  Also I would need to give a nod to both Tinderbox and also Coppa Cafe as they are...not quite "fine dining", but very, very good and I will have to blog about them both later!

That said, I have had some very memorable meals at 1899 Bar and Grill.  I must say that I have had probably the best grilled chicken breast I have ever eaten there.  Grilling a piece of boneless chicken breast to absolute perfection is not as easy at it seems, because it can be over cooked or under cooked immediately.  Also, they can be over seasoned or marinated quite quickly.

Here is a link to 1899's Dinner Menu.

1899 Bar and Grill

I think what I like best about 1899 is that it is part of Northern Arizona University.  So, you are likely to have student staff and cooks serving you as you enjoy your meal.  So, be patient with them as they learn their trades!

Here is a link to Yelp's Reviews of 1899.

Here is a link to Trip Advisor's Reviews of 1899.

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Flagstaff's Top 3: Mexican Restaurants For Breakfast Or Lunch

by Gary Nelson

Here is a link to my last blog, Flagstaff Top 3: Best Places For Lunch In Downtown Flagstaff.

OK, I will flat out say it:  Mexican food in Flagstaff is not the greatest compared to other parts of Arizona.  The best in the WORLD, in my opinion, is in Phoenix and that is Los Dos Molinos.  There are other very good places in Phoenix, Tucson and points in between, but Flagstaff...not so much.  I had a friend say to me once, "The best Mexican Restaurant in Flagstaff Phoenix."  That's pretty harsh, but is very telling.

And don't ask a Flagstaff "local" either.  They will send you to an old, worn out, dirty place in east Flagstaff that has the blandest, overcooked Sonoran food you have ever had.  I don't know why people here think that's great, but maybe it's because they have never been to Phoenix or Tucson.  Or California.  Or anywhere, I guess.  I am sure that this opinion of mine will upset more than a few of the "locals", but the fact is...your favorite Mexican restaurant is terrible.

However, I am here to tell you that there are a few gems in Flagstaff and that's what we will be exploring in this blog.  I am starting off with Breakfast and Lunch places and saving Dinner recommendations for a later blog.  Here it is:

Tacos Los Altos

There are 2 Tacos Los Altos in Flagstaff, and the strange thing is...I believe they are owned by different people.  I would say, pick one.  For me, I chose the East Flagstaff location (3650 E. Route 66), as it is the original.  It has been several years since I have gone to the South Flagstaff location, but it was equally good.  My friends tell me it still is!  

Tacos Los Altos is a very "Mexican" Mexican Restaurant.  What I mean by that is that it is not Americanized in the least.  This place could be in any Mexican city and draw a big crowd.  It is that good and that authentic.  The shrimp cocktails are as good as anything you would get in Rocky Point.  I don't think I have a favorite item on the menu, so just pick what you like and you won't be disappointed.

Tacos Los AltosI can't seem to find much of a website for these guys other than just a menu page, but here are some reviews on Yelp:  Tacos Los Altos On Yelp.



​Martanne's has a reputation in Flagstaff for being THE breakfast place for Mexican food in Flagstaff and it is for good reason.  It really is quite good.

The place started out as Martan's Burrito Palace and was located in the first block of north San Francisco Street.  It started way back in the early 1980's and I was going there when I was a student at NAU in the late 80's.  It was located in a very small spot that was the Franciscan way back in the day. I remember going as a small child with my family and stepping out on to the street right as the All Indian Pow Wow Parade went by.

Martan's became extremely popular with anyone that went there and the main thing they went for was the Chilaquiles.  If you have never had Chilaquiles, traditionally it is tortilla chips scrambled with pico de gallo, cheese and sometimes eggs.  Martan's became known as "The House That Chilaquiles Built" and never looked back.  Their Chilaquiles are a bit different, with an enchilada sauce blended in, but...they are very good.  The cook for years and years was a little old lady named Alice and if you ever ate any of Alice's food, you can call yourself a true Flagstaff local.


Martan's has been through a couple of intra-family ownership changes over the years, a location change and a name change.  It is now Martanne's and it is still THE place to go for a Mexican Breakfast in Flagstaff.

Here is an Arizona Highways Article on Martanne's.

Here is what Trip Advior has to say about Martanne's

Honestly, I do not know a single person who does not love the place, and you will see it again in my next blog on Flagstaff Mexican food as well.  By the way, it is a great place for dinner as well.


El Capitan Mexican Grill

El Capitan started out several years ago as a west Flagstaff location for Salsa Brava which is another very popular Flagstaff restaurant.  After a sale to a local Flagstaff family, it was rebranded as El Capitan and has never looked back.  El Capitan went its first few years as basically another Salsa Brava, it seems because the recipes were almost identical. But over the years, El Capitan has created its own identity and now holds its own.  I believe that it holds up as one of the better places in Flagstaff for Mexican and let me tell you why.

El Capitan Mural

El Capitan is known for a great salsa bar, a killer margarita called Lily's and some pretty darn good food. For me, I will order the Shrimp Enchiladas with a chipotle sauce or the chili verde with an egg on top. Combine that with a great salsa from the salsa bar and a Lily's and you are set, my friend.

El Capitan Plate

Hey, look!  They actually have a website! 

Hey Look!  Trip Advisor likes them too!


El Capitan Dining

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Flagstaff's Top 3: Places To Have Lunch In Downtown Flagstaff

by Gary Nelson

I am often asked where is a great place to sit down and grab lunch with a friend or business prospect?  Since I work downtown and grew up here in Flagstaff, I will give you a couple of great ideas in no particular order.  Here we go:

Cafe Daily Fare

This is a great spot to go!  It started off as a catering company and they have expanded over the years to become a Flagstaff favorite.  One friend of mine almost always picks Cafe Daily Fare whenever we meet for lunch, and I think I know why.  Very high end feel to the food and the menu changes a bit here and there.  Although not cheap, they won't break your budget either.  This place is not really within walking distance of Downtown for most people, but a short drive away on the shoulder of Downtown behind and east of Babbitt Ford on Route 66.  Very much worth the drive or long walk.

Cafe Daily Fare

 Many locals swear by the duck tacos.  I find them to be a bit too sweet for me, but they are delicious. For me, I will usually opt for a special of the day.  The enchiladas I had last time I was there were very good, as was the muffeletta I had there once.  Of course, the best place on the planet for a muffeletta is Central Grocer in New Orleans, but...we are talking about Flagstaff, Arizona!


Cafe Daily Fare is a place you can't go wrong.  A bit crowded since it is somewhat small and popular, but a great place to meet a friend or 3 for lunch.

Here is their website:  Simply Delicous Cafe Daily Fare


A few of my friends would probably disagree with me on this one, since Charly's isn't the same since Matt left, but I think it is a good, solid choice for a friend lunch or business lunch downtown.  I think they will get it dialed in as this year goes on.  Plus, if I take a client there, it is a big slice of Flagstaff life served along with the lunch.  What I mean, is it is probably one of the most "local" restaurants in Flagstaff, much less downtown.  It is also a good choice for a larger group, as Charly's has a pretty wide menu and everyone can find something to like.

For me, it's the Navajo Taco, hands down.  Chicken with black beans, please.  Extra salsa on the side.  If you don't know what a Navajo or Native Taco is, you are missing out.  It is a serving of fry bread (kind of like a cross between a funnel cake and a sopapilla) with taco toppings loaded on top.  So your meat of choice, beans, lettuce, tomato, and other typically Mexican or southwestern toppings.


Probably the best place to get one in Arizona is at Cameron Trading Post in Cameron about an hour north of Flagstaff on Highway 89.  But Charly's Navajo Taco fills the bill as well.  There are quite a few southwestern options on the menu, as well as sandwiches, salads and more.

Here is their website:  Charly's Pub and Grill 

Swadee Thai

Why Swadee over the much more popular Pa To Thai?  Atmosphere.  Much less crowded and just around the corner.  Honestly I would give a nod to Pa To for their food, but Swadee is quiet and is just a better place to meet people, in my opinion.  I do love Pa To, which will be highlighted in an upcoming food blog on Thai in Flagstaff!

At Swadee, it is Yellow Curry during winter, Mixed Vegetables during summer.  The Yellow Curry features a thick coconut and chili based sauce of your choice of meat plus potatoes, carrots and a few other yummy thing.  Set the heat where you want it, but on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, 3 through 5 will take away that winter chill!  During the summer months, I think the the Mixed Vegetables are perfect because it is a quick stir fry packed with vegetables and once again, you get to tell them how spicy you want it.  Perfect for my version of a quick, light lunch.

Here is their website:  Swadee Thai


That's it for now!  My next blog will be Flagstaff's Top 3: Mexican Restaurants for Breakfast Or Lunch.  

Here is a link to my first blog on food in Flagstaff:  New Restaurants in Flagstaff!

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

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Contact Information

The Gary Nelson Group
Realty Executives of Flagsaff
15 E. Cherry Ave. Suite 101
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Direct: 928-225-3510
Office: 928-773-9300
Fax: 928-774-1102